In case you missed it, I traveled to the Bahamas back in May of this year (3 months ago) to undergo fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT).
Did it work?
I know you want to know this. And you probably want a simple answer, too.
But the truth is, it really isn’t simple. Health is a constantly moving target and it can be challenging to sort out what is influencing your symptoms.
I usually try to be very methodical about introducing new supplements, habits, foods, etc. But unfortunately (or fortunately?), real life is not quite as controlled as a science lab.
The simplest answer I can give you is this:
I think FMT helped with some things:
- Increased tolerance to high FODMAP vegetables– I was already tolerating onions and garlic daily before I decided to undergo FMT, but would still experience constipation with veggies such as asparagus and peas. I now have a higher tolerance.
- Clearer skin (goodbye, bacne and jaw-line zits!)– but this could also be from even further reduction/nearly elimination of sugar.
- Overall improved digestion– this was only a slight change as I was already doing quite well. But it is difficult to compare my current symptoms to how I felt before FMT as this is the first time in years that I have gone an entire 3+ months without taking an antimicrobial supplement- so I may be underestimating my improvement in this regard.
But FMT did not seem to help with these symptoms:
I thought maybe the below symptoms had improved slightly while in the Bahamas, but unfortunately, the improvement may have just been a coincidence because they have since worsened.
It can be hard to tell whether a remedy is effective for me because my symptoms fluctuate with my menstrual cycles (my symptoms worsen right before ovulation and menstruation).
Now that it has been three months, I can tell you that the following symptoms are still speaking to me loud and clear.
- Chronic vaginal yeast infections
- Extreme fatigue
- Frequent sore throat
- Intolerance to wheat (or gluten? or both?), oats, dairy, fruit, sugar, and refined grains/starches
What do I make of this?
Prior to going to the Bahamas, the doctor there told me that we needed to get the yeast under control in order to optimize the chances of the FMT working properly.
Unfortunately, the protocol that they sent me contained supplements that had not been effective for me in the past.
So we decided it would be best for me to use medications/supplements that I had noticed were more effective for me. Primarily Nystatin (prescription antifungal) and Thorne SF722 (antifungal supplement). Unfortunately, the thing with yeast is that it tends to develop resistance rather quickly. So a treatment would work for a while and then lose its effectiveness.
Then, for the FMT prep, I consumed gatorade (cringe) for electrolytes because I couldn’t find coconut water. The yeast flared up BIG TIME. In hindsight, I wish I would have brought stevia-sweetened electrolyte packets with me.
I believe inadequate control of yeast prior to the treatment could be a potential reason why it wasn’t as effective as we had hoped.
What am I doing next?
1) Keeping sugar consumption to a minimum
The biggest change between my diet before and after FMT has been less consumption of sugar and refined carbs/starches (primarily white rice and potato). I wasn’t consuming a significant amount before treatment (less than 24 grams added sweeteners daily and not more than 1 or 2 servings daily of refined starches).
But I drastically reduced my sugar and refined grain/starch intake after FMT. In fact, I believe I consumed less than 1 tablespoon of sugar within the month after FMT. Not an easy feat in our modern world. But I continued because it seemed to make a difference. Since then, I had times where sugar creeped back in, but never to an excessive degree.
And I often go a week at a time without any added sugars.
I am not paranoid or militant about it, but I try to avoid it as much as I can because I feel better that way. So I plan to continue limiting my sugar consumption.
2) Working alongside my health practitioner to seek more answers
Although I know a lot about health, I think it is important to avoid attempting to be your own doctor. An objective view can help rule out any serious conditions and avoid self-diagnosing via doctor Google.
But being a self-advocate for your health? I am all about that!
Those of us with chronic illness are notorious for having our health conditions dismissed by doctors or led to believe we are somehow causing our symptoms (via stressing about our health, for example).
Due to a change in health insurance coverage, I have been trying to work within the conventional medical system so that my appointments are covered by insurance.
Unfortunately, my conventional medicine doc seems puzzled by what could be going on with me and is of the mindset that candida overgrowth only happens in severely compromised individuals. I am open to hearing her perspective, but if she ultimately has no solutions for me, I plan to ask for a referral to a naturopathic doctor who may able to provide more insight.
I do not regret going to the Bahamas for FMT as it seemed like a logical next step with low risk.
Although I was initially very disappointed that the FMT was less fruitful (get that pun? I wish I could eat more fruit!) than I hoped, I am grateful for the minor improvements I experienced. And I know there are always more things to try.
The future is bright, my friends!